It’s 4:40 in the morning, 12/20/1949, and 26 year old Ruth Stokstad, who can’t roll over, tells the wall “It’s time Lloydie” hoping that the sound will reflect off the thin wall and Lloyd “Coach” Stokstad will wake up and hear on the other side of the bed and take her to the hospital. Some other adult on call is called and the Stokstad parents leave Arden, 6, Richard 3, and Mary, 13 months of age in a Quonset hut (left over from housing GI’s who returned from the war only 4 years back), and get into one of those billowy late ’40s sedans for the 5 mile drive to Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo. There, in a few hours, Dr. Seibert will stroll in on his Tuesday morning shift and ask a nurse, “What have you got for me today?” and she’ll say “a basketball coach’s wife from Cedar Falls.”

At 12:33 pm that day another boy will join the family.

On my birthday it never seems like much of an accomplishment or even a celebration. of my existence, but rather a marker of her long incubation, extra burden, morning and probably night sickness, money concerns, ongoing parenting of three others, working, cleaning, shopping, planning, and struggling with an insecure gait and an unknown future, but still bringing yet one more baby into existence.

And even though on that day, it may have started with cry, a shock of emergence from a warm, floating, but shrinking lake, I still consider my birthday, even this the seventy second notch, to be their gift, their hope, their thought that maybe one more child will bring with him, and find, light, love, kindness and beauty.

I’m thanking those two for this our happy birth day.